Handling food safely before and after holiday feasts

Judy Simon, a dietitian-nutritionist at University of Washington Medical Center, says that following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s four steps to food safety can keep holiday meals safe from foodborne illnesses. The four steps, briefly:

  1. Clean: Wash your hands and surfaces often. The first step for everyone is to wash their hands, Simon said. Keep kitchen surfaces clean and clear to prevent accidental mixing.
  2. Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate foods. “You don't want to ever reuse a plate that had raw meat on it. Put it in hot, soapy water and use a different dish,” said Simon. Using separate cutting boards and knives for each type of food, and washing those items between each use, is wise.
  3. Cook to the right temperature. Every kitchen should have at least one food-grade thermometer, Simon said. Make sure you’re using your thermometer correctly.
  4. Chill: Refrigerate perishable foods promptly. Thaw frozen foods safely in the refrigerator. 

“After things have been sitting out, it's getting to the hour point and nobody's eating it – wrap it up and put it away,” said Simon. Reheating leftovers to safe temperatures will greatly reduce the risk for any foodborne illness.

Download broadcast-ready soundbites featuring Simon’s advice on holiday food prep safety.

Learn more about food safety from the CDC.

UW Medicine